This paper examines the role of comparative brand similarity in comparative advertising. This study proposes that brand similarities will interact with comparative claims and consumers' product knowledge to influence consumers' evaluations of the brand extension. A new brand extension was employed with a core brand image either similar or dissimilar to the comparative brand in the experiment. The findings suggest that for the new brand extension to be advertised, a similar brand for comparison in comparative advertising would result in an assimilation effect which elevates the brand extension evaluation. A contrast effect due to a dissimilar comparison is moderated by the comparative claims. The difference between the parity and superiority claims in comparative brands is stronger when the comparative brand is dissimilar than when it is similar to the extension brand. Also, the assimilation effect induced by the similar brands is stronger in low versus high knowledge consumers.
Journal of Marketing Communications, 17(4), 229-244